Art galleries in Santa Fe display everything from historic Pueblo pottery to contemporary photography. With hundreds of galleries spread across the city around the Plaza, Canyon Road and the Railyard Arts District, a visitor could spend a week there doing nothing else and still not see all the art galleries in Santa Fe.
Where to begin?
Use this list as your starter’s guide.
My favorite Santa Fe New Mexico art galleries reflect my preferences: Native American and Western art. I appreciate all forms of art, but when I’m in Santa Fe, I’m looking for Native American and Western and there’s no place better in the world for finding either than the Santa Fe NM art galleries.
My list is also weighted toward painting and sculpture. Just as many galleries specialize in pottery and jewelry… my word, the jewelry! Santa Fe, without question, is the best place in the world to see and purchase Native American jewelry.
When you visit the art galleries in Santa Fe, you’ll find your own favorites, they’ll probably be right next door to mine, so until then, here’s a list to get you going.
Santa Fe Plaza and Downtown
My favorite artist is Earl Biss (Apsáalooke) and Earl Biss central is Galerie Züger. Gallery owner Paul Züger represented Biss and life and continues representing the artist’s work since Biss’ death in 1998.
Galerie Züger sells original Earl Biss oil paintings in excess of $50,000, but also high quality, limited edition, signed serigraphs which capture some of the magic of Earl’s color and spirit. These large format, framed serigraphs begin at under $3,000 and are a great entry level product for serious collectors and admirers of Biss.
When visiting, be sure to ask about touring Galerie Züger’s upstairs “museum” where, from time-to-time, Paul Züger displays portions of his personal Earl Biss collection including a dozen or so wall-sized masterpieces.
Steps away from Galerie Züger you’ll Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery which has been specializing in hand-made, hand-painted, Native American pottery from the Southwest since opening in the early 1990s. The store layout has been intentionally designed to help newcomers by organizing pots from specific Pueblos together so visitors can recognize the difference–Acoma, Laguna, Hopi, San Ildefonso and so on.
Each Pueblo’s pots have unique characteristics. At Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery, the distinctions are highlighted for shoppers to easily identify their favorite style.
The legends of the genre are also spotlighted providing additional history and context. This begins with Maria Martinez (San Ildefonso Pueblo; 1887-1980), best known for her striking black pottery found in museum collections around the world.
She wasn’t the only grande dame of Pueblo pottery. Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery highlights these women as well.
Margaret Tofoya (1904-2001) at Santa Clara.
Rose Chino Garcia (1928-2000) and Lucy Lewis (1895-1992) from Acoma.
Nampeyo of Hano (1860-1942) at Hopi. Steve Elmore Indian Art specializes in Nampeyo pottery.
Familial traditions run deep and wide through Native American art from the Southwest and no better example of this exists than with Nampeyo and her great-great-grandson Dan Namingha (Hopi-Tewa). Namingha was a first-generation Institute of American Indian Arts artist and stands as one of the fathers of Modern Native art. Namingha has had his paintings exhibited and collected all over the world.
Namingha has owned Niman Fine Arts near the Plaza since 1990. In addition to his paintings and sculptures, the gallery shows the work of his sons, Michael and Arlo.
Next door to Niman Fine arts and next on my list of unmissable art galleries in Santa Fe is the Allan Houser (Chiricahua Apache) sculpture gallery. Houser passed in 1994, but is still the king of Indian sculptors with works in the permanent collection of an endless list of major museums, public buildings and parks.
Across the street from Niman Fine Arts and Allan Houser’s gallery sits King Galleries. Virgil Ortiz’ (Cochiti Pueblo) Indigenous futurism ceramic figures highlight the selection. Ortiz was named the Living Treasure artist in New Mexico for 2022.
The heavyweight lineup of living Native American artists with work for sale at King Galleries continues with Mateo Romero (Cochiti Pueblo), Susan Folwell (Santa Clara Pubelo) and Russell Sanchez (San Ildefonso) – Best of Show Winner at SWAIA Indian Market 2022 – along with legends Tafoya and Martinez.
Tiny Keshi Gallery, a block from Andrea Fisher Fine Pottery, specializes in Zuni Fetishes–small animal carvings crafted to impart the animals’ “medicine” to their holders. Intricate, colorful, spiritual, Keshi Gallery transports customers into a fantastical world of legend and handicraft.
Zuni is the largest of New Mexico’s pueblos with roughly 80% of households there earning a primary living off the production of artwork. Digest that staggering figure for a moment.
Established in 1981 as an artists’ cooperative, Keshi Gallery provides retail space in Santa Fe for Zuni artists to sell their work in the tourist mecca without having to navigate the volatile commercial gallery scene there from home, 200 miles away.
For shoppers, Keshi Gallery assures authenticity because staff members have seen almost every piece come through the door. As at Andrea Fisher, contemporary artists routinely stop in at Keshi to sell their latest creations and chat with fortunate shoppers.
Maya Gallery has a number of locations around the Plaza, be sure to stop in for the sculpture of my friend Brenna Kimbro.
From La Fonda Hotel to the Wheelwright Museum to … Starbucks which has a giant mural of his on its back wall, Tony Abeyta (Diné) remains the king of artists in Santa Fe. Owings Contemporary represents his work. His shows typically sell out, so if you drop by and don’t see any Abeyta paintings on the wall, ask to see the jaw-dropper behind the owner’s desk.
In addition to Tony Abeyta, Owings Contemporary sells HIGH END paintings from the Taos Founders, Freemont Ellis and other museum-quality works including a Birger Sandzen which is the best painting of his I’ve seen outside of the Denver Art Museum. Start your negotiation at $500,000 and see what they say.
Before leaving the Plaza to visit other art galleries in Santa Fe, be sure to stop in at Manitou Galleries for the work of Nocona Burgess (Comanche), Kim Wiggins, Tracy Felix and Oreland Joe (Diné, Ute). Next door you’ll find Sorrell Sky Gallery and Kevin Red Star’s (Apsáalooke) dramatic figurative paintings.
Santa Fe New Mexico Art Galleries – Canyon Road
With over 100 galleries along Canyon Road, I’ve devoted a separate article to detailing my favorites.
Santa Fe NM art galleries began moving into the refurbished Railyard District in late 2008 following a decades-long, massive restoration of the area from derelict railyard and industrial area to the fabulous mixed-use, retail, dining, entertainment, arts and park area it is today.
Blue Rain Gallery headlines the scene here with the glass sculpture of Preston Singletary (Tlingit) as the star attraction. Throughout 2022, Singletary had an exhibition of his work on view at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. His sculptures regularly retail for over $50,000.
Blue Rain also represents the work of superstar contemporary Western Pop artists Billy Schenck and one of my favorite contemporary painters, Starr Hardridge (Muscogee Creek). Hardridge’s unique fusion of Pointillism and beadwork has him high on the list of artists I most want to add to my collection. With pieces starting under $5,000, that’s not a fantasy.
What is a fantasy is owning anything from the brilliant Louisa McElwain who’s represented by Evoke Contemporary located beside Blue Rain. McElwain took her own life in 2013. Her landscape paintings of northern New Mexico completed outdoors with palate knife capture the spirit, the energy, the enchantment of this area.
The pieces retail for in excess of $20,000 and rising. Evoke Contemporary has more of her work than anywhere else. I profiled McElwain in-depth at Forbes.com.Allan HouserDan NaminghaEarl BissFemale artistindigenous artistNocona BurgesspotterySanta FeStarr HardridgeTony AbeytaWestern art
What do you think?